Android Authority

Ultra Mobile stock photo 5

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

T-Mobile has never been shy about its extensive network of MVNO options. Ultra Mobile is one of these carriers, and it prides itself on its affordable plans and international calling options above all else. You may not be as familiar with Ultra, but that’s why we’re here. We’ll walk you through everything there is to know about the carrier, as well as a few of its best alternatives.

See also: What is an MVNO?

Like many MVNOs, Ultra Mobile skips the post-paid plans altogether. Instead, you can choose from a few different prepaid options and pick up just about any phone you can think of. Once we finish with the plans, we’ll hop into a few of your best bets to get you started. Let’s get to it.

Ultra Mobile at a glance

Although you may not be as familiar with Ultra Mobile, it’s not one of the newest carriers on the block. The MVNO has actually been around since 2011, and it was formed in Costa Mesa, California. You can now find Ultra Mobile in over 25,000 stores across the United States, including Target and 7-Eleven. We tracked the carrier down at the Better Business Bureau and found it has been accredited since 2017 and carries a B-rating. Ultra also has a one-and-a-half star rating from customers and has closed just 70 complaints in the last three years.

One of Ultra Mobile’s most valuable contributions to the US carrier race came in 2016 with the launch of Mint SIM. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because that carrier has since spun off to become Mint Mobile in 2019. Ultra briefly owned Univision Mobile as well before folding those subscribers into the parent brand.

As we’ve mentioned, this is a T-Mobile MVNO, which means that you have the full strength of the Un-Carrier behind you. There’s plenty of speed to tap into across the 3G, 4G LTE, and 5G networks, and Ultra has an interactive map where you can see your local options. Check out the coverage in your backyard right here.

Pre-paid Ultra Mobile plans

If you’ve decided that it’s time to make the switch, we have good news. There are only two main types of plans to try — those with limited data and those with unlimited data. We’ll break down the broad strokes in the table below, and then we can jump into the nitty-gritty of each option.

  Limited data Unlimited data
Cost $15-$39 per month (1 month)
$13-$36 per month (3 months)
$11-$35 per month (6 months)
$10-$30 per month (12 months)
$49-$59 per month (1 month)
$46-$56 per month (3 months)
$45-$55 per month (6 months)
$40-$50 per month (12 months)
Talk & Text Unlimited Unlimited
Data 250MB up to 15GB 40GB or 60GB
Hotspot Hotspot available up to data cap Hotspot available as part of the monthly limit
International Service Unlimited talk to 80 destinations
Monthly international long distance credit
One-time $5 international credit
Unlimited talk to 80 destinations
Monthly international long distance credit
One-time $5 or $10 international credit

Limited data plans

The easiest place for most people to start — especially if you just want to give Ultra a test run — is with a limited data plan. You can always start with the 250MB per month option, though the data cap serves as a strict limit. Once you move into one of the higher-capacity plans, you technically get unlimited data instead. However, you’ll notice some pretty strict throttling as soon as you hit your monthly cap. The 250MB option isn’t enough for most people anyway, so you can reach as high as 15GB per line.

Outside of the data options, all plans include unlimited talk and text nationwide. You can also dial the day away to more than 80 international destinations. If you’re hoping to make a call beyond the included options, you’ll have to pay by the minute. Luckily, each plan offers a baked-in international long-distance credit.

Highlights:

  • Up to 15GB of 5G or 4G LTE data per month
  • Prices as low as $10 per month

Best for:

  • Users looking to try Ultra at a lower price

Unlimited data plans

Ultra doesn’t change much when you jump from a limited plan to an unlimited one. You’ll still get unlimited talk and text to work with, including calls to more than 80 international destinations. However, you’ll have to work far harder to burn through all of the 40 or 60GB of data each month. You’ll also get a larger international long-distance credit each month to call destinations outside the default 80.

Instead of using your entire monthly data allotment for a hotspot, the Ultra Mobile unlimited plans cut you off at 10GB or 20GB, depending on your plan. It’s still more practical than the limited options, and you can get up to $10 for your one-time roaming credit.

Highlights:

  • Up to 60GB of 5G or 4G LTE data
  • Hotspot access tops out at 20GB

Best for:

  • Users who are ready to commit to Ultra long-term

International access

Nationwide talk, text, and data are fairly standard for affordable MVNOs, but international calling is what sets Ultra Mobile apart. After all, there aren’t too many other plans that grant you calling to 80 countries for as little as $10 per month. The included international destinations cover everywhere from Australia to Venezuela, and many offer mobile calling as well. American Samoa only offers mobile calling, but you’ll have to check on the entire list before signing up.

If you don’t see your preferred destination on the list of 80 countries, you’ll have to check Ultra Mobile’s master list for individual rates. It should show you both a mobile to mobile rate and mobile to landline rate, as well as whether or not there’s a fee for text messages. Some calls can cost as little as five cents per minute, while others can run you for nearly 50 cents every single minute you spend on the phone.

Those of you with big plans to spend hours on international calls might want to look into Ultra Mobile’s uTalk option. It’s essentially a booster plan for your international access, with up to 1,250 extra minutes to select locations like Bangladesh and Pakistan. Access slowly trickles down from there, with some countries offering 500, 200, 100, or 50 bonus minutes instead.

Which Ultra Mobile plan is right for you?

Ultra Mobile stock photo 3

Credit: Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Luckily for everyone, it’s pretty easy to choose an Ultra Mobile plan. It really just comes down to whether or not you need unlimited high-speed data. Even though all plans technically include unlimited data, you’ll be throttled once you reach a certain point. If you want to stretch your speed as far as possible, you’ll have to turn to the Unlimited and Unlimited Plus plans. These offer 40GB and 60GB, respectively as well as a slightly larger international roaming credit.

If you’re alright with a lower data cap, you can take your pick from 250MB per month all the way up to 15GB. All of these plans offer the same talk and text options, but there are some monthly deals to help steer your spending right now. For example, the 3GB plan is just $11 per month for three months — the same as you’d pay per month for six months of the 250MB plan.

Don’t forget that it pays to go for a multi-month plan, sometimes you can save up to 33% on your service.

Ultra Mobile vs the competition

Cricket Wireless stock photo 1

Credit: Cricket Wireless

As you already know, there are plenty of MVNOs on the market today across all carriers. Although Ultra Mobile sticks to T-Mobile for coverage, other excellent options take Verizon and AT&T on for size. We’ve chosen one option from each to give you a taste of what the other side can offer.

Check out our table below to get an idea of your options:

  Ultra Mobile Unlimited Cricket Wireless Cricket Core Spectrum / Xfinity Mobile Unlimited
Cost $49 per month for one month
Down to $40 per month for 12 months
$55 per month for one line
Down to $25 per month with five lines
$45 per month
Talk & Text Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Data Unlimited up to 40GB Unlimited with 8Mbps maximum download speed Unlimited up to 20GB
Hotspot Up to 10GB per billing cycle Available with Cricket More plan Up to 5GB per billing cycle, then speeds reduce to 600Kbps
International Service Unlimited calling to 80 destinations
Per-minute rates to other destinations
Unlimited texts to 37 countries
Canada and Mexico usage up to 50%
None mentioned

Cricket Wireless

If you’re hoping for an affordable AT&T-based carrier, it’s tough to top Cricket Wireless. The MVNO is famous for its family plan discounts, and right now, you can get the unlimited Cricket Core plan for as little as $25 per month. It packs limitless talk, text, and data into one friendly package, and you can text with friends in 37 destinations worldwide. Cricket Core also brings access in Canada and Mexico into the mix, though your usage cannot exceed 50% of your overall billing cycle.

Learn more: The best Cricket Wireless plans

Spectrum Mobile and Xfinity Mobile

We’ve chosen to lump Spectrum and Xfinity Mobile together as solid Verizon alternatives to Ultra Mobile. The reason for this is that they’re basically two versions of the same carrier. They share the Big Red network, and they’re both reliant on your home internet service above all else. This means that if you’re already an Xfinity customer, it makes sense to try the mobile version, and the same goes for Spectrum. The two even offer similar plans, with a by-the-gig option as well as a truly unlimited option to choose from.

Learn more: The best Spectrum Mobile plans | The best Xfinity Mobile plans

Ultra Mobile alternatives that use the same network

mint mobile ultra mobile alternative

T-Mobile has more MVNOs than most people can use in a lifetime. While that might make your sign-up process a little tougher, it does mean that you have plenty of ways to find the perfect plan. This section is all about other carriers on the Magenta network, even if they don’t follow the same affordable pricing schedule of Ultra Mobile.

Check out our table before we dig into the options:

  Ultra Mobile Mint Mobile Google Fi Metro by T-Mobile
Cost $49 per month for one month
Down to $40 per month for 12 months
$35 per month for 6 months
$30 per month for 12 months
$60 for Simply Unlimited
$70 for Unlimited Plus
$50 or $60 per month
Talk & Text Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
Data Unlimited up to 40GB Unlimited up to 35GB Unlimited up to 22GB Unlimited up to 35GB
Hotspot Up to 10GB per billing cycle Up to 5GB per billing cycle Included on Unlimited Plus Up to 5GB or 15GB depending on plan
International Service Unlimited calling to 80 destinations
Per-minute rates to other destinations
Free calls to Mexico and Canada Free data, texts, and calls on Unlimited Plus
Affordable international rates on both plans
Not mentioned
Extras None None 100GB of Google One storage with Unlimited Plus 100GB of Google One storage
Amazon Prime membership on the premium plan

Mint Mobile

Sometimes the apprentice becomes the master, or at least that’s the case with Mint Mobile. It initially launched as a part of Ultra but now exists as a standalone carrier owned by Ryan Reynolds. Mint stayed committed to its limited data plans for a few years, though it has launched an unlimited alternative and given its plans a solid data kick lately. Just like with Ultra, it pays to stick with Mint Mobile long-term as you can drop your bill to just $30 per month.

Learn more: The best Mint Mobile plans

Google Fi

It’s not entirely fair to call Google Fi a true T-Mobile MVNO, though it does use the Un-Carrier for the bulk of its service. You can either take the by-the-gig approach or tap into one of two unlimited plans. Simply Unlimited does the trick for users who plan to remain in the US and don’t need to reach beyond the borders with calls or texts. On the other hand, Unlimited Plus packs plenty of international texting and data options as well as a heap of cloud storage.

Learn more: The best Google Fi plans

Metro by T-Mobile

For our final competitor, we’re looking at Metro by T-Mobile. It was once known as MetroPCS, but it has become an integral part of the T-Mobile family. You can tap into quite a few different plans, but the unlimited options are sure to provide the best bang for your buck. The decision primarily comes down to your data needs, with one plan offering 5GB of hotspot access per month and the other increasing to 15GB. Metro’s most expensive plan includes an Amazon Prime membership, too.

Learn more: The best Metro by T-Mobile plans

What phones can you use with Ultra Mobile?

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra vs iPhone 12 Pro 1

Credit: Adam Molina / Android Authority

Ultra Mobile is keen on its affordable coverage options, but you might not guess so by looking at the available phones. The carrier has just about all of the latest flagships on offer, including options from Apple, Samsung, and Google. However, Ultra has quite a few older models to choose from, too, with the likes of the Pixel 3a XL ($399) and Galaxy S10 ($649) gracing its shelves.

As with most carriers, you’re more than welcome to bring your own phone when you switch. All you have to do is sign up for a plan and buy a SIM card to get started. Ultra Mobile is a GSM carrier, so you should have no problem bringing a phone from AT&T or T-Mobile, or you can bring an unlocked device.

If you’re set to bring your own phone, you’ll also want to ensure that you have the proper band support. Check out our table below before you sign up:

Band Network Supported
2, 4, 12, 66, 71 4G LTE
n71 (600MHz), n260 (39GHz), N261 (28GHz), n41 (2500MHz) 5G

Source: Android Authority